The third week at Charming Stranger may have been the busiest week of my life and, also, one of the most rewarding. Each and every day here is a true adventure. On Sunday, Elisha and I finally met Connie Jo after a month filled with Skype calls and messages. We then all met our director of photography, Christ Chandler, and sound mixer, Colin Frangos, for Elisha and I’s short films. As we were filming later that week, we had to go over equipment needs, scripts, shot lists and storyboards to make sure we all understood what was to come. As a group, we also visited the filming location Connie Jo had scouted for us. From doing all of this, I could not believe how soon I would see the story in my head come to life, not to mention, with an incredible team I was so lucky to have.
On Monday, I continued to edit my script and shot list with the notes Chris and Colin had given me the day before. On that same day, Liz Anderson and Connie Jo volunteered to do a read through of our scripts. After this, we realized I would have to change my entire film’s ending in order to have my film’s message come across. After two days of brainstorming new endings with Liz, Connie Jo, Cameo and Elisha, I knew we had thought of something great and were now telling the story right.
On Tuesday, after scraping together the final details and preparations for our films, Elisha and I had the pleasure of attending Dinner with Dames. Here, Elisha and I met ate with several women filmmakers and special guest George Rush, a California attorney. During the dinner, I listened to him and the other attending filmmakers talk about the legal side of filmmaking. In my experience, this is a topic so rarely discussed and never taught yet so vital to know. I felt so thankful for being able to hear this insight of the legality in filmmaking from an attorney who often represents independent filmmakers. During this dinner, I as well was to film interviews and footage of the dinner. While doing this, I had some technical difficulties when it came to camera battery but in the end we were able to get what was needed. This is something I will know how to avoid in the future and hope to never have happen again.
On Wednesday, Elisha and I attended Script to Screen, an monthly event hosted by SF Filmhouse where after a group reads the screenplay of a film on their own time and then watches the film together following with a discussion of what was changed / added. This was one of my favorite events that I was able to attend with Charming Stranger yet. As I had been changing and editing my script, it was amazing to see what was left out for the film, Leave No Trace, and, in my opinion, both for better and for worse. In the future, I plan to continue comparing these two versions of a project and see how a story is morphed from paper to action. This was as well, highly relatable to when filming my short film, but we’ll get to that.
As mentioned above, on Thursday and Friday, Elisha and I were finally filming. The first day we were shooting Elisha’s film. During this I was controlling slate, keeping track of audio and video data logs and helping with any other side jobs needed. Between all these tasks, the day felt super busy and hard to keep on track, but it was also so enjoyable to learn how to do each of these on set. Colin and Christ were very helpful and so patient during these two days.
On Friday, we woke up bright (sort of) and early (definitely, early) to finish the last scene of Elisha’s film. After starting later than hoped, the pressure of time was on more than ever. After wrapping Elisha’s film up, it was my time to get behind the camera and direct. I had never directed before to a crew but seeing Elisha do it for the past day and morning, I was so excited to start. The day was long and tiresome, but my team and actors were nothing but troupers. The biggest struggles for me was time management, understanding what shots we had and had not gotten (while using two camera) and being in a space with many interruptions. However, the experience was amazing and I learned so much in such a short period of time. Even if we had some hiccups, such as running out of daylight, losing camera battery and the setting, I cannot wait to see the finished product and am so proud of the effort and work everyone contributed.